Thursday, July 31, 2008

even more awesome

J.K. Rowling is publishing an edition of Tales of Beedle the Bard that commoners like myself can purchase! No seriously, that's awesome. I've read the summaries on Amazon but of course it'll be nice to actually own it. I am an HP completist, more or less. I'm not going to, like, buy the $100 leather-bound version. Leatherbound books are creepy anyway, especially as they get older.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

omg awesome

Check out this Metafilter post. It's all about libraries that check out CAKE PANS! That is awesome, in the literal sense of the word.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

2008 book 115

Ellen Litman's The Last Chicken in America
I knew I was going to like this nove in stories about Russian Jews who have immigrated to Pittsburgh b/c on the first page it described a trip to the exact supermarket my parents go to! Yup, the whole thing takes place in my neighborhood, Squirrel Hill, and it's full of lots of great late-90s Pittsburgh details. I assume some of this is autobigraphical--the author emigrated from Russia to America as a teenager. Anyway, it made me all nostalgic for home, so it gets an A-.

2008 book 114

Tana French's The Likeness
This is a sequel to In the Wood, which I generally liked. It didn't have nearly the same amount of intensity, though the story sounds pretty promising--the young detective from the previous book is called in to go undercover as a murder victim who looks just like her and was using a name from the detective's years undercover. She inflitrates the murder victim's insular group of friends and housemates to attempt to fid a suspect. Anyway, it moved a little slowly and there was one decision she made that made absolutely no sense, and though I was interested enough in the outcome to keep reading, it didn't really grab me. B.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2008 book 113

Wesley Stace's By George
Stace, aka John Wesley Harding is the author of Misfortune, which I read and enjoyed a couple of years ago. Now he's back with a novel that's slightly more modern but no less full of twists and turns. It's narrated alternately by a boy about to enter boarding school in the 1970s and by his grandfather's ventriloquist's dummy, who was built in the 1930s. The story of their amazing family emerges as the two narratives begin to collide, and the end (though somewhat predictable) was quite satisfying. A-.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

hp6 discussion

Post comments about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince here!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2008 book 112

Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games
This is another book I picked up at ALA--a YA dystopian sort of thing that I picked up tonight on a whim. But, oh my GOD, it was really, really good! I'm not going to try and explain the whole world's backstory but basically there's an annual event--the titular hunger games--where twelve boys and twelve girls from across their nation have to battle to the death. The protaganist is a surprisingly adept teen girl and I was rooting for her from the get-go. Seriously, this was riveting. I actually was so into it that I forgot to watch Project Runway. The only bummer is that it's the first book in a trilogy and I'm dying to know what happens next. A.

on bookish girls

Rereading the Twilight books last night, I found myself wondering if part of their appeal isn't just the romantic vampires and adorable werewolves, but Bella's characterization as a clumsy, inexperienced, well, word nerd. Especially in the first book, she clearly loves books and wants to go to the big city just to find a bookstore. Even when this is lessened in the second two books, each draws themes paralleled to great romantic works--Romeo and Juliet pops up often in the second, Wuthering Heights in the third (though I personally have always thought both Romeo and Heathcliff are shmoes, they do have appeal for a certain type of teenage girl, embodied in Bella). Anyway, the point is that I wonder if part of Bella's appeal isn't just her romantic foibles or her dangerous adventures, but the fact that other shy, bookish girls can really relate to her. Don't all shy, bookish girls hope that some romantic hero will inexplicably fall in love with them (based on the smell of their blood? Or whatever).

It does seem to be a trope in literature aimed at girls--think of all the classic books about girls who like books, like Anne of Green Gables and her romantic poetry, or even Roald Dahl's Matilda, whose initial goal in the book is just to be able to read library books. (Matilda came out when I was in elementary school and I fell in love with her for that.) Anne even grows up to be a writer, as do many, many other girl characters--like Laura Ingalls or Betsy (of Betsy-Tacy)--who never seemed to show any great inclination toward reading. I'm sure there are others I'm just not thinking of at the moment.

Is this just b/c the authors of these books were themselves bookish girls (or boys)? Is there some authorial assumption that girls who like to read like to read books about girls who like to read? I know I do, but is it very common?

Oddly, I can't think of any books about boys who like to read, other than the kids in Edward Eager's Seven Day Magic (a co-ed group). Is this strictly something aimed at girls? Or is the bookish girl just another literary archetype?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2008 book 111

Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse
These books are really pretty silly and even a little moralistic if you think about them too much, which is why I don't! Team Jacob!

2008 book 110

Stephenie Meyer's New Moon
Yes, I AM reading the entire series in one sitting! As noted before, I am strongly on Team Jacob--his character has way more personality than Edward, who is basically just really pretty. I mean, think of it this way--Buffy fans, would you rather date Oz or Angel? Oz is way more cute and fun than Angel, who's always going on about souls and things.

2008 book 109

Stephenie Meyer's Twilight
Yes, I did just read this series, but the last book* comes out in a couple weeks and I needed to catch up! Plus, this was the perfect read for my post-second-root-canal, numbed mouth afternoon.

*In which the infamous Team Edwrd vs. Team Jacob debate will finally come to an end! (Obviously Edward will win, but I still am a strong believer in Team Jacob.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

2008 book 108

Ron Rash's Serena
All weekend long I was bored with my books--everything from the library seemed dull and unappealing. Feeling nostalgic for NC, I decided to try this advance copy from ALA, about a young married couple running a huge timber company in western NC in 1929 (note for NC denizens--one of the bookseller blurbs in the front is from someone at Quail Ridge). Things quickly take a turn for the darker side, but this novel is entirely compelling. A.

Friday, July 18, 2008

2008 book 107

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Yeah, my willpower really didn't last. It's ok, we're not discussing it till August 8th--I'll maybe even read it again before then. :)


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
I had a few inches cut off my hair today! I love it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008 book 106

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I've been trying to wait till closer to the 25th (when we discuss it) to reread it, but I couldn't! I started it last night and finished it today as a present for surviving my root canal this afternoon (my mouth is still hilariously numb and swollen). It's going to take all my willpower to resist reading the 7th right now . . . but I have very little willpower when it comes to Harry Potter.

Now . . . finally watching Act I and II of Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog! I love you, Neil Patrick Harris!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Multimedia message

Multimedia message
Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
New JB video! He kept meowing but I don't know what the matter was.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

2008 book 105

Randa Jarrar's A Map of Home
This book, due out in September, has already been getting some buzz so I was psyched to pick up an advance copy at ALA. It's a classic coming-of-age novel about a girl who's the product of a Palestinian father and an Egyptian-Greek mother. She's born in America and raised in Kuwait--at least until Iraq invades. I think it's got to be slightly autobiographical based on the brief author bio on the back cover, which lends the story great strength and great details. Seriously, this was really good. A.

Monday, July 14, 2008

2008 book 104

Kirsten Miller's Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb
Seriously, WHY is Kiki Strike not a household name?? I love these books.

Speaking of YA books . . . I was totally looking forward to getting the current issue of EW (with Twilight on the cover) but it never arrived! Now how will I get my teen vampire fix??

Sunday, July 13, 2008

2008 book 103

Lisa Unger's Black Out
A young wife and mother in Florida is haunted by her traumatic past when she thinks someone from that past is coming for her. I don't want to give too much of the story away--I'll just say it's pretty creepy and has lots of exciting twists and turns. A more solid effort than the other books by Unger I've read--A-/B+.

2008 book 102

Sebastian Barry's A Secret Scripture
This story of a dr trying to figure out the life story of an institutionalized woman (who is penning her own memoirs as well) would have been awesome if the jacket hadn't given the end away. SO LAME!!!!!

PS My internet has been going down a LOT this weekend, so forgive slow responses etc.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy
I always forget to blog about what comics I've been reading--so here's a photo of the shipment from Chapel Hill Comics that arrived on my doorstep today. Yay comics!

Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 book 101

Peter Abrahams' Down the Rabbit Hole
This YA mystery involves an eighth-grade girl who gets caught up in solving a murder. Unfortunately, I really couldn't suspend my disbelief and think a pre-teen would act the way she does, and the end was completely predictable. C-.

summer reading

Here's a few book-related links I've shared on Google recently:

The AV Club gave Edgar Sawtelle a rave that I totally agreed with. And here's an NY Times piece on the author.

Lost book club?

The chick who does the Fine Lines feature at Jezebel got a book deal, which rocks. (Jezebel has lots of good book coverage, like this story about Jane Austen-themed weekends, and this piece about the new Curtis Sittenfeld book based on Laura Bush. I still can't get past that. For more on that book, check out this wrap-up of some coverage and this post.)

And of course, don't forget the Anne of Green Gables book group, sure to be a summer sensation!

harry potter 5 book discussion!

Post comments about HP and the Order of the Phoenix here!

Remember, the next discussion will take place on July 25th.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2008 book 100

Mary Gaitskill, ed. Best New American Voices 2009
This is the best book I've reviewed for Library Journal in a while--there are some really stellar stories in here. Also one where a dude kills a dog, which made me like the book a little less.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

anne of green gables book group?

Anne of Green Gables turns 100 this year* and is generally awesome, so Christina and I are starting an AoGG book group! We're going to re-read the whole series!! The box set is on sale on Amazon for those who want to join in and can't find all their copies (like me, and mine are all in Pittsburgh anyway). Anyway, let us know if any of you would like to join in the book group fun!

*link via Christina

tv on dvd

As many of you know, there are few things I enjoy more than watching tv shows on dvd (while I knit), especially when there's nothing else good on. Lately I've expanded this to include BBC miniseries (Cranford and Bleak House were both awesome), but to my delight, last year's shows are finally coming out on dvd so there's even more goodness in my Netflix queue! I finally caught up with Mad Men and it is SO GOOD! Though it's weird to see all the characters smoking all the time, even around their small children. What a different a few decades make.

So what awesome BBC dramas should I catch up on? What show(s) from last year should I catch on DVD? (Last's season's shows are an interesting dilemma; usually I buy all my faves and watch them over and over, but the only ones I'm buying for sure are Pushing Daisies and 30 Rock. MAYBE I'll get The Office, My Name is Earl, and HIMYM, but they were all less than stellar after the writers' strike.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

2008 book 99

David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed in Flames
I've been reading this off and on for a couple of weeks--maybe I wasn't in a Sedaris mood, maybe his stuff is jsut better heard live, maybe it's that I've read or heard about half of these in the past few years (I heard the boil story twice in 2005 and it still kind of grossed me out!). Anyway, it's typical Sedaris, entertaining if you like him (which I generally do).

Sunday, July 06, 2008

2008 book 98

Catherine O'Flynn's What Was Lost
A little girl--a wannabe detective--goes missing in the 1980s, and twenty years later the sister of the main suspect in the disappearance and a security guard--both employees of a local mall--get caught up in the mystery. It's not a serious thriller, but there's some good narrative tension and all the characters--especially the little girl--are great. This book won the Costa award and was on the Booker and Orange longlists--very deservedly. A.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

2008 book 97

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This isn't my favorite HP book, but it makes me want to reread books 6 and 7 right now!! Our discussion for HP5 will be on Friday, so check back!

Friday, July 04, 2008

2008 book 96

David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
It took me a few days to read this book, and not just b/c of its length, but b/c as engaging and moving as it was, it just kept getting darker and darker and I needed respite. Part of the problem is that the jacket talks about things that don't happen till close to 400 pages in, which ruins some of the suspense. Also, it's jut a sad story, basically Hamlet meets White Fang. I think I'll give it an A b/c it was so tremendous, but I'm definitely reading one of the Harry Potter books next to cheer myself up.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

2008 book 95

Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife
OK, so this really could have been a great novel about a woman who becomes first lady somewhat begrudgingly . . . if it wasn't a thinly veiled (well, not really veiled at all) fictionalization of Laura Bush. I mean, it's well written and whatnot, but then young Laura meets young Bush and there are sex scenes and I'm right out of the story. I try not to think about Bush at all, let alone in a sexy way. I don't even know what to think about this book. What on earth possessed Sittenfeld to write this?